Review: How AviWorlds hosting compares

Editor’s Note: AviWorlds, an OpenSim-based virtual world, launched a sister hosting company in late June, Avi-Labs. At Hypergrid Business, we’ve been hesitant to recommend it because it had no track record and no customers, and its parent company has a long and turbulent history of instability. Today, however, we have a guest column from a customer who’s been using the service for the past two months, Mike Townsend, the owner of the United Kingdom grid.

(Image courtesy United Kingdom Grid.)

(Image courtesy United Kingdom Grid.)

I have been dipping my feet in the water with several hosts including YourSimSpot, AviWorlds, SkyLife Grid, Kitely, Great Canadian Grid, Oliveira and Lost Paradise and I have to say that all of these have been surprisingly keen and helpful in their approach to setting up regions quickly and efficiently. I still have regions running on all of these hosts.

I would happily give an account of my experience with any one of those providers listed in my opening paragraph as they are, in my opinion, responsive, helpful and knowledgeable and essentially good at what they do.

So where does AviWorlds sit? Firstly, of course, two months is a very short time. However, it does let you compare the service with others and take into account any downtime, lag or technical issues and to get an idea of how responsive a host is if you hit on a problem.

With AviWorlds my request was originally for one region which gave me the opportunity to see if the service and region worked well. I set up the region and loaded it with prims and it worked perfectly with a good frames-per-second rate and zero down time.

(Image courtesy United Kingdom Grid.)

(Image courtesy United Kingdom Grid.)

I then asked them to set up my grid there. This basically involved several mega regions and some single standard regions. All in all about 30 regions of varying configurations.

For just US $60 a month AviWorlds offers a super ten-by-ten variable-sized regions — the equivalent of 100 standard regions — with a 150,000 prim limit. This is the account I have.

My first concern was that this was too cheap and cannot possibly work well. I couldn’t have been further from the mark.

AviWorlds owner Alexsandro Pomposelli has been really good with the customer service side of things and is always on hand to help with any problems.

The AviWorlds grid is actually quite interesting and has several fascinating regions and some very good builds from former Second Life members. The boatyard by JP Products and the massive cruise liner are certainly worth a visit since the quality of build is as good as anything in Second Life. There is quite an active community there too and it seems split between those that like partying or solitary builders.

The person who set up my regions was Josh Boam. He asked all the right questions and guided me through the whole process. A couple of my OAR region backup files were problematic and he spent time and effort resolving the issues. The enthusiasm about what he does and the grid he is helping to run is contagious. A remarkable guy to say the least.

I can understand the concerns about their history. For me this was a consideration but I am also careful to back up all my OAR files and also have identical copies of my regions actually up and running elsewhere so I can re-point people to other locations.

(Image courtesy United Kingdom Grid.)

(Image courtesy United Kingdom Grid.)

I am also particularly impressed with the way AviWorlds make use of Linux for the asset hosting — which is more robust — but then use Windows for the simulators. They were also careful to host my regions on their European servers which is a big plus for me as I am based in the U.K.

Another thing that impressed me about AviWorlds was their attitude towards content theft. Boam actually made a point of walking around my regions that he had uploaded and checking that the content of my freebie malls was legal. He found a Land Rover vehicle that I had no idea was a problem and advised me of this and a couple of other items that could have caused issues with the creators. I deleted them accordingly.

I like that approach. It shows you that they are responsible enough to care about content theft.

It’s early days, but so far so good. And whatever the previous history of AviWorlds, I put my faith in them this time round as I am inspired by the competence and knowledge of Josh who is running the hosting aspect of this grid.

This looks like a winning team from my perspective.

Mike Townsend

Mike Townsend is the founder and manager of the United Kingdom grid.

  • Alex Ferraris

    I want to also thank our programmer Quill Littlefeather. He has developed many functionalities that are very important for the residents and the grid. Josh Boam has also been fantastic working sometimes around the clock for the AviWorlds and Avi-labs. Superb team!

  • skylifegrid

    yes We must thank Quill For the amazing contributions to AviWorlds since his start only a few months ago.. The 3 Of Us will do good 🙂 Lets keep up the good work and Feed Your Imagination!

  • skylifegrid

    I also what to thank you Mike for your amazing personality We need more like you in the grid!!!!! You also keep up the great work!

  • skylifegrid

    Thank You Maria for the amazing post~

    • Mike. thank mike. Oh, I see that you already did. never mind!

  • Sara Baxton

    Shocking, Almost like trump running for office 🙂

  • I mentioned this on Inworld Review last night. The pricing does make it a good deal, but warned folks to be careful before moving anything mission-critical over, and, if you do decide to host with AviWorlds:

    * Get regular OAR backups (these are exports of your full regions)
    * Many grids are hesitant to give IAR backups (these are exports of your full inventory) because of content protection issues.

    One alternative, with hypergrid-enabled grids like AviWorlds is to use an avatar from a more stable grid. For example, I run my own little grid, Hyperica, and I use my Hyperica avatar for everything important. You can do the same with a home-based OpenSim grid, where you use your local avatar to travel the hypergrid. That allows you to make as many backups as you want, when you want.

    Or you can use an avatar from, say, Kitely (I haven’t seen any reports of them losing inventory in… well, ever.)

    * If you’re hosting a full grid with Avi-Labs (or any other hosting company) make sure your contract provides for regular backups of BOTH regions AND inventories AND the grid database. For smaller grids, they should just be able to send these backups to you.

    * Also request a contract that specifies that they can’t just turn off your service without, say, X weeks of notice so that you can find a new provider, and that they’ll work with the new provider to move the grid over for you.

    * In the contract, you might also specify no more than X hours a week of scheduled downtime (they do, after all, need to install patches and upgrades once in a while). And build in penalties for unscheduled downtime — say, for every hour of downtime, you get a two hour credit off your bill.

    Don’t accept the standard Terms of Service that hosting companies offer — they are extremely favorable for the vendor, and not favorable at all for the customer. In particular, watch out for clauses that say they can change the agreement at any time without any notice!

    • Alex Ferraris

      Avi-Labs , AviWorlds offers full OARs and hourly back ups. We are taking care of our customers needs and safety.

    • Frank Corsi

      Very good points to make! Some grid hosting companies already do provide all this you mentioned.

  • skylifegrid

    The content in AviWorlds is protected by hourly backups We have offsite storage for our backups as well.. As for down time we have implemented a watch system that watches all the region simulators and if one crashes it will automaticly restart it.. Inworld Region estate restarts are now full shut-down and restarts of the simulator making for a much more clean restart. There is tons of new things in the works and I want to thank Quill for his amazing contributions to the team.. Top 10 Is in the future!

  • skylifegrid

    And Maria We were once troubled but now we stand strong ….. This talk of ohh The troubled grid AviWorlds should change to The Amazing Growing Yadda Yadda 😛

  • 100 regions — for 60.00. Question, how many regions are being put on each server?